Most people are logical. We make decisions based on fact, evidence, and statistics. Occasionally we make choices based on our feelings or our past experiences. But rarely would someone in the 21st century make a deduction about a peculiar event by blaming it on the fairies. In the 18th century, they would.

Why did people use superstitions?

Superstitions were the bridge between experience and science. Bad things happen in fairy circles. Anecdotal evidence supports that belief. A field goes fallow when you plant over them.

People go missing or return dazed and confused from sitting in one. To our predecessors, fairy circles were associated with bad experiences. But they hadn’t the science to explain why, hence the fairies.

How do the Irish believe fairy rings are formed?

Firstly, a fairy ring is a circular area of dead grass. The entire circle can be dead, the outer ring dead, or alive and well with a ring of mushrooms. Nowadays, it would still be peculiar to come across a perfectly good field or meadow with a random ring of mushrooms or circle of dead grass. Trust me, you’d Google it. Or at least take a selfie.

How did the Irish explain fairy rings?

Fairies are wee folk. They don’t have wings like Disney depicts Tinkerbell. They live normal lives, own shops, birth children, and even get married. But they do have supernatural powers. It’s said the rings are formed when these wee fairies dance in circles.

That makes the circles holy places because fairies are seen almost like fallen angels. To disturb the circle is to desecrate holy ground. The fairies will punish trespassers accordingly. By say, ruining your crop in that field or dazing you.

What does science say?

Science says there’s some truth to fairy circles. I know. I had to Google it, too. Our predecessors might not have known the scientific reason for a fairy circle’s ill luck, but they had seen the evidence. Fairy circles are caused by mycelium (pictured above), the true organism beneath mushrooms.

Mushrooms are the visible fruit or product of mycelium. If the soil is evenly rich, the mycelium in the soil will spread even outward, in a circle. In its wake is dead, nutrient-deprived soil.

So how did fairy circles kill fields or daze people?

There’s more science: mushrooms give off spores. Some of these spores can make you confused. They can cause memory loss, paranoia, and hallucination. Sounds like the perfect beginnings for a fairy story. Also, mycelium is in the soil. Tilling over the soil does not kill it. But it will kill your crops and it will spread quickly if you fertilize it.


So, advice from a pragmatist: stay out of the fairy circles… unless you’re looking to get high and see some fairies. I’ll leave you with a few ways the fairies use a circle and its mushrooms: as parasols and umbrellas, as little stools to picnic on, as doors to their underground kingdoms, as landing pads for dragons, and lastly, as portals for elves to travel between realms.